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Health Place. 2014 Jul;28:167-72. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.04.009. Epub 2014 May 22.

Neighborhood characteristics and leukocyte telomere length: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology and Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States. Electronic address: needhamb@umich.edu.
2
Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
3
Department of Epidemiology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, United States.
4
Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States.
5
Department of Epidemiology and Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States.

Abstract

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides, and critically shortened telomeres trigger cellular senescence. Thus, telomere length is hypothesized to be a biological marker of aging. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between neighborhood characteristics and leukocyte telomere length. Using data from a subsample (n=978) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a population-based study of women and men aged 45-84, we found that neighborhood social environment (but not neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage) was associated with telomere length. Respondents who lived in neighborhoods characterized by lower aesthetic quality, safety, and social cohesion had shorter telomeres than those who lived in neighborhoods with a more salutary social environment, even after adjusting for individual-level socioeconomic status and biomedical and lifestyle factors related to telomere length. Telomere length may be one biological mechanism by which neighborhood characteristics influence an individual׳s risk of disease and death.

KEYWORDS:

Cell aging; Neighborhood social environment; Neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage; Telomere length

PMID:
24859373
PMCID:
PMC4096814
DOI:
10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.04.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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